The Final Cut
BETA-ed by the selflessly-wonderful TheOnlyFlorence as of Feb 10, 2013.
Utena characters belong to their various owners.
Synopsis: She did a little something prior to walking out.
Notes: This is a prequel to my main fic Seinen Kakumei Utena ( s/8086621/1/Seinen-Kakumei-Utena), but can be read as a standalone.
Time: Moment of Revolution
Place: Ohtori Academy, Chairman's Tower
Theirs was a painful parting worsened by the agony of rebirth.
"Utena-sama, hurry and run away! The Swords . . . I beg you . . ."
"Himemiya . . . someday . . . someday, the two of us . . ."
And their world broke like a cracked egg – breaking along with it the mask of a witch, and the pride of a prince – tearing their clasped hands apart as they fell away from each other. Her meddlesome hero was mourning her loss; she herself was plummeting straight down.
". . . couldn't become a Prince . . . sorry . . ." Those were to be the last words she heard the despairing child utter, before the ravenous Hate Swords swarmed their new host, leaving her alone in her endless descent—
Jolting awake at the sound of the doorbell, Himemiya Anthy found herself tangled against a vortex of rumpled sheets spilling messily over the inversion twin bed, the one she had been sharing with-
"I guess Utena's not here." Shinohara Wakaba's girlish voice sounded with but minimal distortion via the unit's sophisticated sound system. "And here I wanted to do homework together."
Nerve-blasting pain struck Anthy suddenly at her hearing those words: she would have cried out, had she not already grown accustomed to pain throughout her centuries old relationship with the Swords of Hate. Just now, hearing Utena's name—
The pain came again – this time strong enough to choke a wheeze out of her lips – and comprehension began to dawn on her ancient mind.
The Duel called Revolution had ended with Ut . . . (pain, must not think about name) the Final Duelist opening the Rose Gate and releasing the Power of Dios slumbering within her all along. It was this Power slipping out of her gasp that caused the collapse of the Dueling Arena, and it was this power that . . . the Final Duelist now must be carrying with her (just remembering that face had the pain stabbing at her again), along with those damning parasite swords sure to be hurting their new host (pain, unavoidable pain) even right now . . .
Must. Find. Her (PAIN). Soon!
A squeezed, wounded whine - one that reminded Anthy of a farm animal getting slaughtered - came from outside her room. Oh yes; him . . .
Running into the Planetarium/office, she found her brother sprawled on the ground, having fallen off his seat of power . . . or rather, his office chair (Was that an iced-drink on his desk?). Curled up onto a trembling ball upon the red-carpeted floor, with his pain-twisted face smeared under tears and snot, Akio Ohtori now looked much different than his usually poised, powerful self.
His lips – foam-covered and definitely no longer sensuous – moved like a pair of cut earthworms as he struggled to speak.
". . . safe . . . fail . . . safe . . ."
The memory came wafting to her mind.
Long ago, after their fall, after their initial operations to seize strong, noble human souls for use as "test-keys" to unlock Dios' Power had just evolved into the Dueling Game, she and her brother had cast this "fail-safe" enchantment over the Rose Gates, to ensure those sword-robbed Final Duelists – reasonably powerful individuals of the world – would have no chance of ever seeking retribution from them.
"I don't take chances," said the Ends of the World, holding his bride and sister against his lean, muscled torso. "Anyone whose sword is strong enough to actually open the Rose Gates will be a force to be reckon with, even by our standards – and people are nothing if not vengeful. With the Power still in slumber, our magic remains scarce, so this will have to do.
"In the event of the Rose Gates actually opening to release the Power of Dios, the following enchantment shall befall the party whose soul gets offered:
"Every time he is to think about details that might lead him to the Victor bearing the Power: name, age, location last seen, even something as insipid as their skin color, pain akin to ones from hateful swords stabbing shall assail his head. Should he even mention the Victor to another, by word by writing or by any other means, his heart shall scorch as if burned by brimstone . . ."
Her brother had taken Ut - the sword to try and hack open the Rose Gate, and failed; the Victor (pain . . .) had pried open the Rose Gate with bare hands-
. . . no, not bare; she had the rose signet on her finger.
The rose signets were in reality remote-controlled shackles upon the chosen pawns – one attuned to the Rose Bride's will. Could it be, that Utena's (PAIN BUT WHO CARES) sheer willpower had somehow managed to resonate with Dio's dormant soul signature (also slumbering in her), to the point that she then used it to finally open the Rose Gate, and claimed for herself the Full Power?
Had Utena (GODS . . .!) truly - albeit unknowingly - replaced Dios as the true Prince of the World? The very one for whom she had endured the Hate Swords (and assorting sufferings) through all these long years? Surely, no lesser entity could have done what that person did then: being seriously wounded from getting ran through by a sword, and still risking her all to save the one who just backstabbed her on so many different levels-
"Sis . . . ter . . ." whimpered her visibly suffering brother. Was he actually calling out to her for help now?
Yes . . . this was the brother she and the world once adored, after all; his was the soul-signature used in opening the Rose Gate, so it was only natural that he be the one to take the full blunt of the fail-safe enchantment he had once intended for his would-be victim. That, and the Swords of Hate had crumbled the Illusion as they rushed Utena (the hurt was almost worth it now that she knew he hurt worse) off and away: the one the Illusion was attuned to had to have sustained considerable damage just from that alone . . .
. . . with the Swords infesting Ut (ARG!) . . . the Power would again be rendered dormant; the new Prince (bear with the pain) would be the first ever without a Bride, and would have no choice but to take the slicing and dicing of the body and mind unto-
"Sis . . ."
Glancing down upon the fallen man, Anthy daintily picked the iced drink off the desk, and proceeded to drain it herself under his harrowing, dead-fish gaze,
"Take it easy . . . Akio."
Laying down the ice-filled glass back on the desk with a crystalline "cling", she then turned to walk off without sparing the (again) failed prince any further, lingering gaze.
Vaguely, she heard a wheezing, protesting sound from behind, which incited a girlish titter out of her. What? Did he still expect an "Onii-sama" from her, now that he would never again embody that which she loved? Did he actually think he could make demands of her just as before, now that she no longer had use for him? Did he think she would just forget his literally drinking in that person's (okay, the ache seemed bearable when she bypassed the name and duel-related specifics) pain just moments ago, right before the tables got turned?
Wasn't he the one who conditioned her into being a witch – one who cared only for her "prince" and nothing about other people, not even herself?
One could only reap what they sowed.
Riding the Chairman's private elevator – one of grander designs than the cage used by the Students Council members, for what it was worth – down onto the main balcony, Anthy took a moment to soothe over her appearance as she gathered her wits about her.
"You need friends! You should make a lot more friends!"
Yes; that person (bearable) had always been big on friendship. She had, through her bout in the "Academy", came to be surprisingly close to a number of highly colorful characters . . . many of whom privileged and resourceful.
Should they start a search for the Victor, with she herself trailing them from behind via her attunement to her Duelists, then surely, surely . . .
Surely, she would find her new prince (arg . . .) in time, before the Swords were to do irreparable damages; that person was the one to have revolutionized all their lives, after all. Now that their victor (Ack!) and friend had vanished post duel, these hot-blooded children would no doubt be giving chase after her, just to see how she would fare post-duel-
The elevator doors parted, revealing to her Student Council members standing around a Hibachi - one now set hazardously aflame - watching its the assorted skewed meat turn charcoal black underneath their hooded eyes.
"At last, all is decided," muttered Kiryuu Touga; Saionji Kyouichi exhaled deeply from beside him.
"Then it's time."
With that, the Student Council all slid off their rings (except for Kiryuu Nanami, who already was ringless), before throwing them over their shoulders and out of sight in one perfectly synchronized motion.
"Bye, sweet delusions," mock-called Nanami after the sailing rings glinting star-like in the distance, "you won't be missed."
"I can forget this. I can forget this. I can forget this . . ." repeated a closed-eyed Kaoru Miki with his palms pressed together as if in prayer.
Arisugawa Juri's downcast eyes remained trained upon the burning grill and its slowly dying flame. "Not that I'd enjoy recalling the hell we've all been put through – plus the added humiliations. But, I don't want to forget her too . . ."
Miki's face dimmed at her words. "Tenjou-sempai is no longer here, is she?"
"Now that the game is over, who knows to where had the Victor gotten cast off?" ruminated Touga, blue eyes wistfully hazy.
"W-What're you guys suggesting?" Nanami appeared wary of where the conversation was headed. "That we leave school to go after the tomboy?"
"No can do," stated Saionji, bluntly honest. "Ohtori may be a magically warped hell but it still is an Academy of well-repute. Should we quit without the Chairman's consent, I doubt we'd get the referral documentations we need to transfer to any other reasonably good high schools. In my case, I've academy plans here – it would be impossible for me to relocate at this time."
"Now you decide to pursue academics," sneered Nanami at the green-haired jock. "Though truth be told, Onii-san and I are kinda in the same boat. We've never been close to our parents – only now do I know why," she glared at Touga, who faced away, "so asking them for anything, especially something this big, would be quite out of the question."
"Shiori is thinking of joining the Fencing Team," admitted Juri, who actually got the good grace to look embarrassed by the selfish implication of her words.
Miki let out a soft sigh. "And Kozue and I are prepping Tsuwabuki-kun to join the Student Council starting next year, so . . ."
Listening to these humans - still oblivious to her presence, so engrossed were they in their discussion - Anthy felt herself boiling over with a feeling that was perhaps more intense than that of the fail-safe enchantment's punishing pain.
It was this cold, glacial rage that now enveloped her person as fine, shaved ice.
Had these peons forgotten just how close they all were to being mentally and physically crushed by her brother (and her, but that was not the point at hand)?! It was Utena's (ARG!) persistence in befriending this difficult lot that got them to start opening up about their petty problems; it was that person being her meddlesome heroic self that broke their shells and gifted them with the ability to bond amongst themselves (so they might help each other to go on living); it was Utena (HURT) , all UTENA (HURT BUT DON'T MATTER), all because of HER that these unstable, violence-prone loons were not all currently asylum-ed!
". . . not practical at all. We're just students and there's little we can do for Utena, really. I still say we should all just hurry up and forget- ACK!" Finally noticing Anthy (along with her no doubt unsightly expression), Nanami scrambled backwards to hide behind her brother's back. "I-It's her! The Devil's Weirdo!"
The insult barely registered with Anthy, who busied herself with struggling against the enchantment as she tried voicing her request: that they had to go after Utena right now, themselves – so she could track their progress – or it could be too late for . . . and already she was collapsing painfully onto the hard floorboards from the choking, debilitating pain searing at her heart.
Childish, childlike voices could be heard in the background of her suffering:
" . . . like Himemiya-sempai's having a seizure,"
"I'll call the school infirmary-"
"I won't do that if I'm you, Saionji – who knows what the school nurses will find on her?"
"Juri's got a point: The Rose Bride is not human, after all."
"I say we leave her be – this is probably a fake death thing like those frogs on Discovery Network; the Weirdo could simply be plotting something again . . ."
There were a few more back and forth between the Duelists, none of which Anthy could clearly make out, wrecked as she was by her brother's damnable enchantment. By the time she was again of coherent mind, they had all since wandered off, leaving her on the night-engulfed balcony, alone.
This was the "friendship" that Utena (pain upon pain upon . . .) had cherished so? Indeed, it was in people's nature to be fickle, to be self-centered, to be blind-sighted to that which did not carry immediate relevance, but these wretched, immature children . . . it was not so long ago that they were having that game of squash, baring their hearts to each other like soul-mates; it was not so long ago that declarations of love were made, along with those heroic attempts to defy the Ends of the World . . . now that the Game was over, now that they knew Utena had been exiled from the campus after the highly apocalyptic Final Duel – known to be possibly injured, or worse – this was their reaction? These are friends? Them?
Producing her cell phone, she checked, put it away, and stepped back into the elevator, riding down.
There still were the Black Rose Duelists yet left unchecked; she still might be able to (somehow) prompt them to aid her in her search. That person, bearing the Power and the Swords at once, would certainly be physically and/or mentally hurt, and should end up at some form of hospital or asylum, where she should be staying for weeks and on at least (please, let that be the case) . . .
She could maybe take a month's time (max) staying behind, trying to get the Duelists' selfish hides moving towards searching for . . . that person; truth be told, she also needed just about this much time to properly plan out her "aid list" – just whom she could/could not go seek help from in the outside world. Just earlier on, she had sent Nemuro straight back to Chida Tokiko (albeit not exactly in fair condition) after his "graduation"; perhaps she still could use that as leverage to get some much-needed favors out of the talented witch. There were numerable others who owed her favors scattered about the land, she had better start re-communicating with them soon.
Either way, should that person lose even one single lock of hair due to her so-called friends being late in their actions, there would be a reckoning – for their fickleness, and for their having infringed upon that person's affection, which was hers by right, and belonged to her alone . . .
Time: 1 month post-revolution
Place: Ohtori Academy, School Hallway
Like always, she treaded alone . . . and amidst eerie shadows acting out in her background.
" . . . little tramp just started going out with the man of her dreams. She's the one who kept going 'Utena-sama, Utena-sama' all the time!"
"Hey, you got a problem with that?"
"Hey, who was Utena-sama again?"
"What, don't you know?"
"Remember? She's that girl who always dressed like a guy."
"She got hassled by the teachers all the time."
"Oh, now I remember. Her!"
"But didn't she get hurt real bad and hospitalized a month or two ago?"
"Huh? Hospitalized? I heard she got betrayed by a friend or a lover or something and switched schools."
"I heard she got in trouble with the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and expelled."
"Well, not like it matters-"
They would have tittered – would have tried further antagonizing her with that – had she not choked them off with her sheer, brute power. Minxes.
Nevertheless, the Shadows always speak the truth, or at least the essence of it.
None of the Duelists – Black Rose or otherwise – had shown inclination to actually go after that person. On top of not having left the Student Council, Miki now busied himself with re-bonding with Kozue under the guise of coaching Tsuwabuki. Touga seemed to be deepening his relationship with the now grounded Saionji, so he – along with his emotionally reliant sister Nanami – would not budge from the academy. Juri was, as usual, emotionally entangled with Shiori. Sure, there was that Wakaba girl snooping around her irrelevant social circles asking about what had happened to her "bestest friend" in the world, which (of course) got her nothing more than baseless rumors conjured up by idle children . . .
In the end, none of them were willing to change their lives for that person, despite how that person had risked her all changing all their lives for the better . . . but it was alright now. No longer did she have need for these children in her search: the network of witches and wizards loyal to her in the outside had since been re-established, and she would be leaving Ohtori – leaving them all behind – by the day.
But not before she did this one, final thing.
Producing her cell phone, she went to her messages, checked, pressed "Sent", closed it again, put it away, and stepped into the Tower's private elevator, riding up.
The elevator doors parted to reveal the grand, hollow-seeming Chairman's Office, with the following recording being played through the sound system:
/. . . I don't want to forget her too . . ."/
/"Tenjou-sempai is no longer here, is she?"/
/"Now that the game is over, who knows to where had the Victor gotten cast off?"/
/"W-What're you guys suggesting? That we leave school to go after the tomboy?"/
The audio extract reached its end.
"I see you still remember how I don't take chances," said Akio from where he sat typing on his laptop. "Thanks, Anthy."
To that, Anthy gave him her usual benignly serene smile, as she walked up and towards his desk, upon which a downcast Chu-Chu now was seated beside a pile of sealed envelopes. She cast her gaze down upon her familiar; it hung its head even further down. Glancing up and at Akio, she found her brother's expression uncharacteristically vapid and guarded; she supposed he had reason to be, that with her having ignored him for a full month post-revolution. His fingers were flying upon the laptop's keyboard, and she knew the emails typed would no doubt have damaging effects on those pawns in the freshly past round of the Dueling Game.
Made paranoid by his current moment of weakness – and knowing it was her and not him whose will was attuned to them – Akio would no doubt be seeing the Student Council members as threats to his scheme, and act against them accordingly.
"It hasn't been that long since then, but everybody's forgotten about her completely," said the hollowed-out shell that used to be the Ends of the World (her world). "She did not cause a Revolution after all . . ."
Anthy had to make an effort to hold in her derisive laugh: the enchantment's might must be dumb-ing him down for him to dare say that to her, who just sent him the recording for god's sake.
As for the Revolution . . . the one that mattered to her happened, and that was all that mattered to her.
" . . . now that she's gone, she was just a dropout to this world . . ."
Those who refused to follow up on the revolutionary success deserved to be left behind . . . hopefully to rot.
". . . got to rebuild the Rose Code from scratch. I'm counting on you, Anthy."
At the irrelevant ex-prince's foolishly groundless request, the Witch broadened her mouth in a toothy, sharp-edged grin.
"You don't know what happened, do you?"
Continued in Seinen Kakumei Utena (see my Profile)